WSIRN Ep 122: This AMAZING episode will have you RACING to the library

You might recognize today’s guest if you’re a reality tv buff – Scott Flanary WON season 29 of The Amazing Race! But he also happens to be a huge book nerd, and that’s what we get to talk about today. Scott says his home-base genre used to be chick lit, but after recently discovering a new favorite niche genre, he’s ready to travel even further in his bookish journey.

Today I get to chat with Scott about how book clubs can help you connect deeply with your community, book-to-stage adaptations, childhood favorite heroines, and YES I ask some of the questions you reality tv fans have been dying to hear answers to, like… how does an introvert find time to recharge during a hectic filming schedule?

This is a GOOD one, readers. Let’s dive in.

What Should I Read Next #122: This AMAZING episode will have you RACING to the library with Scott Flanary

Connect with Scott Flanary: Twitter | Instagram

Need more WSIRN right away? Jump back to Episode 60, when I talked to paleo cooking queen Mel Joulwan about her extensive Jane Eyre collection and the delights of traveling with literature. 


Books mentioned in this episode:

Some links are affiliate links. More details here.

•  Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish (Amazon | Barnes and Noble IndieBound)
•  Ramona Quimby, by Beverly Cleary (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World, by Alan Downs (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  Wolfsong, by TJ Klune (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer (Amazon | Barnes and Noble IndieBound)
•  Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  1984, by George Orwell (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (Amazon | Barnes and Noble IndieBound)
•  The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  White Teeth, by Zadie Smith (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  Lily and the Octopus, by Steven Rowley (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  This is How it Always Is, by Laurie Frankel (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  White Houses, by Amy Bloom (Amazon | Barnes and Noble IndieBound)
•  A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)
•  What Belongs to You, by Garth Greenwell (Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound)

Also mentioned:
•  WSIRN Ep 60: The last page can make or break it (w/ Mel Joulwan)

What would YOU recommend Scott read next? Tell us all about it in comments. 


Leave A Comment
  1. Loved the episode today, Anne! I especially loved that you recommended Chris Cleave’s Everything Brave Is Forgiven. I loved that one too. Cleave is one of my favorite authors and Little Bee is one of my favorite books ever. It has stayed with me ever since I first read it.

    I have a fun recommendation for Scott: Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different. It’s a fun, chick-lit type of read, and it’s set in Seattle. I may have liked it even better than Where’d You Go Bernadette?. Plus, the ending has a fun, interesting twist that I think Semple handled really well.

    • Jill W. says:

      Loved this episode. Scott is so open and fun to listen to. I would recommend Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (historical fiction). The narrative structure takes a minute to get used to, but once you do, you become so invested in the characters. Plus there is a wry sense of humor in parts of it I think you will really appreciate. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Those characters are still walking around in my head. I also loved Everyone Brave is Forgiven.

      Have you ever read Rainbow Rowell? Her characters are so well drawn. Eleanor & Park is amazing, but I am thinking you might like Fangirl and Carry On.

      What about Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series?

  2. Megan Nashel says:

    Loved this episode!! Thanks to you Scott I am going give All the Light audiobook another try. I would love to hear if Scott has read 11-22-63 by Stephen King. If not, he may want to give it a try. It is LONG but super easy to read and the ending is, in my opinion, totally worth the length. It also checks the historical fiction genre box. It was one of my favorite books I’ve read thanks to this podcast! Thanks Anne!

    • Glenda says:

      I ditto the rec of 11/22/63. I slow-read it one month last year and it ended up being one of my favorite reads for 2017.

  3. Jennifer Rodgers says:

    The episode today is absolutely one of my favorites to date. Scott was so much fun!
    I would like for Scott to read:
    Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Set in the PNW with WWII history all around, I think this will be just right for him.

  4. Marie says:

    Hi- I have a few books for Scott that may hit his LGBTQ+ sweet spot. Almost anything by Michael Chabon is worth a read but especially The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It’s a brick of a book but so worth it. (If you like that, Wonder Boys is another of my faves.) Another author worth a read is Michael Cunningham- try At Home At the End of the World. Lastly, At Swim Two Boys is beautiful. I can’t remember the author on this one.

  5. Melisa says:

    Scott’s top 3 are among my favorites. Everyone Brave is Forgiven and This is How it Always is are great recommendations for him. I would also suggest Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin and All We Had by Annie Weatherwax

  6. Alison says:

    Great episode! I loved all the books mentioned today.
    If Scott hasn’t read it already I would highly recommend The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. Engrossing, heartbreaking, heartwarming and funny. It’s a big book that doesn’t feel like a big book. My favourite of 2017…I still think about it.
    It also ticks the historical fiction and LGBT boxes.

    • Jaimie says:

      I can here just to recommend The Heart’s Invisible Furies as well. So good and so perfect for what Scott wants. I also agree completely about it being big but not feeling big. I am not a particularly fast reader but finished this in four days because I couldn’t put it down.

    • Cori says:

      I second The Heart’s Invisible Furies – I think it would totally be in your wheelhouse. I also wanted to recommend Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee and The Time In Between by Maria Duenas (both excellent historical fiction) I also am gonna be a total creeper and say I think we would totally be friends. Similar book tastes, and I am a former student affairs person (now faculty), and have been addicted to Survivor since it started!

  7. elizabeth says:

    This was a fun episode! I’m so glad that “The Nightingale” followed your favorite of “All the Light…” which I didn’t like as much. I’m wondering if you’ve read “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” by John Boyne? It reminded me of a much lighter, Irish version of Hanya Yanagihara’s “A Little Life.” Not nearly as hard to read, but still lovely and heartbreaking and a sweeping saga of a novel.

  8. Mindy says:

    Hi Scott and Anne – great episode today. I was so immersed that I drove three exits past my own on the freeway without realizing it! And I also kept thinking of recommendations which is inspiring me to add a comment for the first time after a couple of years of listening. Anne already mentioned a couple of them – A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara and This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankl. To hit your WWII sweet spot, I’ll add The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes and Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Both heartbreaking literary page-turners! When you mentioned 20-something girl moves to NY to find her way and also that you wanted to branch out a bit, I thought of Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. Very different take on that storyline and definitely not chick-lit.

  9. Marla says:

    Such a fun episode! I kept thinking ” Anne you should recommend This is how it always is” and you did! I loved All the Light you cannot see and the Nightingale and because of that would recommend Salt to Sea by Ruta Sepetys and We were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. Those both check the historical fiction WWII box. Also others Scott might enjoy The Rosie Project and Rules of Civility.

    • Mimi says:

      I’ve only read this one once and it’s been a long time, but I still often think of “Gone to Soldiers” by Marge Piercy. I think Scott would find this interesting.

    • Veronica says:

      I second Rules of Civility! I LOVE this book – 20 something girl finding her way in NY city. It is in the ‘serious’ chick-lit category, beautiful writing, satisfying ending.

  10. Maudeen Haisch Wachsmith says:

    Great episode! I’m glad Scott’s enjoying Seattle. I’m thrilled he has enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s books and would suggest most of her backlist, set in the PNW. He also might try The Abolitionist by John Boyle with a Great War and gay themes…not for the faint of heart though. I agree with his favorites and the recommendations. Hopefully he’s read The Great Alone by the time the episode aired.

    • Kara Middleton says:

      Is it The Abolitionist or the Absolutist? I found the latter at my library but did not find The Abolitionist by him.

  11. Lindsay says:

    I wanted to crawl through my headphones to recommend “the heart’s invisible furies” to Scott. I am reasonably confident it’s exactly what he’s looking for. It’s excellent, high quality lit that really represents a range of experiences as a gay man- not always sunny and not always bleak. Historical fiction and just gorgeous, heartbreaking, and still really funny. I just loved it and is perfect for him and his book club.

    Side note – I have read “what belongs to you”- very atmospheric and dark but well done. I can’t say I really liked it but I am not sure it’s a book you’re supposed to actually “like”.. if that makes sense. Good lit but not actually enjoyable as a read.

  12. Tammy says:

    Great episode, so much fun! I had a random quick question. Scott told that he found you from “Mel” and mentioned her cookbooks. I might have missed it, but who is this mystery Mel? I’ve just started eating healthy and am desperate to find great cookbooks!
    Thank you for all you do.

  13. Lauren says:

    I want to add my two cents about The Great Alone. I absolutely loved this book. I was lost in it in a way that I find to be rare. The ending wasn’t my favorite part of the book, but I loved that it was unpredictable. Love, love, love this book.

  14. Brittany says:

    I LOVED this episode!! I didn’t even watch Scott’s season of Amazing Race but now I wish I had.

    I really want to recommend The Book Thief by Markus Zusak if he has not read it yet. It is technically YA but I think it is one of my favorite WWII Historical fiction books and that is one of my favorite genres and I read a lot of them.

    Also, I really want to recommend Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I enjoyed Where’d You Go Bernadette and I think this book is very similar. Quirky characters but lots of character development!

  15. Erin in CA says:

    Just finished listening to this, and popping in to say I loved this episode!! Scott is charming and well-spoken, and hooray for diversity!!

  16. Alice says:

    The Mel they mention is Melissa Joulwan, who has several Paleo cookbooks in her Well-Fed series. Hers was the first WSIRN podcast I heard, and the picks were good ones for me, too. Thanks for all your hard work, Anne.

  17. Anna says:

    Such a fun episode! I have a couple of recommendations for Scott:
    Since he’s a Big Brother fan, I thought he might enjoy The Undercover Edge by Derrick Levasseur, who won BB16. Derrick discusses how his training as an undercover detective gave him the skills to win BB, and shows readers how they can use those same “undercover” skills to read people, present the best image of themselves, and attain more personal and professional success.
    Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis is another book I think Scott would enjoy. It’s an extremely well-written mystery with a gut-punch of an ending (and the second book in the series just came out, so if he loves it he can dive right back in and follow the same character!)

  18. Michele says:

    Some suggestions:
    Lost & Found
    Eleanor Oliphant
    Wilfred price purveyor of superior funerals
    Romance but well written not Harlequin = Anita Shreves The Stars are Fire I think its called something like that HF love story

    Barracuda (and anything by Chris Tsolkias)
    And the BEAUTIFUL Days Without End Sebastian Barry (gay characters beautiful live story historical fiction beautiful imagery and prose… heartbreaking)

  19. Kara Middleton says:

    What a fantastic episode! Definitely my new favorite. I could have listened to you two for hours! I loved every minute of it.

    I have a lot in common with Scott in terms of his favorites, and I appreciated his desire for quality LGBT fiction. I also adored his personality. I do hope you will have more LGBT guests on the podcast in the future. Anyway, I have either checked out or placed on hold each one of your recommendations and can’t wait to get started.

    Scott, I would recommend A Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. It is one of my all time favorites and is one of those books that captured my heart. The characters are wonderful, and I actually cried real tears while reading it because the relationships were so real and believable. The ending will surprise you as well.

    Happy reading!

  20. Antonia says:

    Hi Anne, long time listener but first time commenter, from a drizzly grey London.

    I wanted to recommend The Last Romeo for Scott. It’s chicklit but gay (if you see what I mean), and is a sharply observed and absorbing story in 2010s gay male London. The author, Justin Myers, is a longtime columnist and blogger, known for his waspish and on-the-nose takes on the Guardian’s blind date feature.

    All the very best – take care.

  21. Ginger says:

    I’m a week behind on my WSIRNing, but I’m so glad I am, because I just finished The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty last night, which has a strong ending. A little bit beach read, a little bit thought-provoking, a lot twisty.

  22. Julie riviello says:

    I really enjoyed listening to this episode. My recommendation for Scott is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

    • Jill W. says:

      Ooh, good recommendation. I hear good things about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (which is the basis for teh movie Love, Simon) too.

  23. Elisabeth says:

    Great episode! I whole heartedly recommend A Little Life for Scott! I reviewed it on my blog, Scott, if you want to check that out first. And I love that you use book clubs as a way to connect with new friends in new cities.

  24. Elyse says:

    Ok, so I’m intrigued, what was the book about Survivor that Scott read? I’d love to know. Thanks! What a fun episode!

  25. Caylee says:

    I loved this episode Anne! As others have mentioned – I couldn’t help but to come on here to specifically recommend The Hearts Invisble Furies to Scott. I’m 75% through it right now and it will easily make my favourites list this year. I think it ticks a lot of his boxes!

  26. Caroline Lohmann says:

    Scott’s 3 favorites are all books I really enjoyed and I agreed with his book he disliked as well. So I wanted to recommend The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn. My book group read it a few months ago and we all loved it! It has the WWII historical fiction connection, but it also takes place during WWI. It is based on some real historical figures and is a compelling story. As for gay literature, he might like How Long Has This Been Going On?, by Ethan Mordden. It spans about 50 years during the 20th century and follows several gay and lesbian characters through the years. It’s focused on their stories, but what is going on in society has a great influence on their lives. Thanks for a fun episode! I’m going to read a few of the recommendations made for Scott.

  27. Jill W. says:

    Ooh, popping back in to recommend Three Junes by Julia Glass. It has a bit of a slow start, but I fell in love with the characters.

  28. Britany Arnold says:

    I really enjoyed this episode- Scott is wonderful and I loved all his book selections too. I came on to recommend Defending Jacob by William Landay– this is an older book, but one that still has me thinking about that ending!

  29. Leisa says:

    My favorite LGBTQ book is “Days without end” By Sebastian Barry! I listened to audible book form, the narrator was amazing! Beautiful love story/life story.

  30. Sheryl Esau says:

    Thank you Scott, I moved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime to the top of my TBR list. I feel like this was such a good lesson in understanding autism that is hard to understand from other perspectives. Loved it!

  31. Melanie says:

    You mentioned this one in the episode, but not as a recommendation: A Little Life is really great. It will definitely break your heart though! Kavalier & Clay, Less, and Sparsholt Affair might all be good LGBT recommendations for Scott.

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